September 12, 2013

Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Part 2

Now for part two of the Beartooth Wilderness trip. On the way to Dewey Lake , we passed several streams. We stopped to rest at one, and Shawn decided to try some fishing. Before I had even sat down to rest, he had a fish on. There was a log jam between him and the fish, so I went and helped land it. It was one of the bigger cutts landed to this point.
Once we made it to Dewey Lake, we set up camp and had some dinner. The views at this lake were my favorite of the trip! Pictures don't do this place justice. There were some overlooks that were just spectacular. The fishing a Dewey is also great. There was not much size to them unless you hiked to the inlet, but they would take flies and spinners frequently. What was interesting with the cutthroat in this lake is the blue tint they had. I've never seen cutts that had this, but as you reeled them in, they would look turquoise in the water.
Shawn With a nice cutthroat from the stream.

What a relief to get the packs off and relax.

It's tough to beat the beauty of the Beartooths.

Braden with a little cutthroat from Dewey Lake.
The next day our group split up. Shawn and Robert decided to go hit the streams, while Jason, Braden and I did a day hike to Cairn Lake to try our hand at catching some of the big brook trout that are said to reside there. We followed a stream that led the way and caught small cutthroat along the way. We eventually came to a pool fed by a waterfall, where we were greeted by three playful river otters. It was so neat to watch them swim around and dunk each other in the water. We were all very surprised to see them this high up on the mountain.

Fishing the stream on the way to Cairn lake.
Three River Otters having a good time.
We soon had to make steep climbs up and down several passes to get to Cairn. What turned into a what we thought was a small hike, turned into an energy draining ordeal. We passed a few smaller lakes along the way, and the views made the hike worth the effort. We eventually made it to Cairn, sitting at over 10,000 feet. The guide books said that the brook trout in this lake were hard to catch, but that they were footballs. Both turned out to be true. 
I figured the fish would be deep, so I pulled out a Rapala and went to work.  My first cast, I hooked into a fish that really hit hard and felt heavy, but after a few seconds, it was gone. I made several casts trying to find them again, and after a few minutes, I had two good sized brookies follow my Rapala in, and I got to watch  one of them hammer my lure. I seriously wish I would have had it on film, because it was awesome to see. I battled the fish, and soon had him at the bank. It was the biggest we would land at this Lake. This fish had nice girth to it, and reminded me a lot of the brook trout in the Boulder Mountains of Utah. Jason snapped a picture, and the fish was released. Everything we caught after that was 10 inches or less. We couldn't find any big ones the rest of the day. after several hours, we decided to head back to camp and relax the rest of the day.
One of the lakes on the way to Cairn lake.

A 14 inch football from Cairn lake at over 10,000 feet.

Jason picked off several brook trout on dries.
When we arrived back at camp, the sun was out, and the three of us smelled like a turtle cage! With that, we decided to take a dip in the lake to wash off. Being a glacier fed lake, you can imagine how cold the water turned out to be. I'm not a fan of cold waterto begin with, so it took me several minutes to build up the courage to jump in. It only made it worse seeing Jason jump in and come up with a look of shock on his face and having trouble breathing. I soon found out for myself. The second I hit the water, My body tightened up, and it took me a minute to catch my breathe. It was ice water! We both dried off as fast as we could, and feeling came back after a minute or two. When Shawn and Robert came back, they said they caught over 60 fish, with the biggest going 16 inches. All of them were cutthroat.
Jason was brave and jumped in first.

Very cold, but so worth it once I was clean and could feel my body again.

Robert working the stream for good sized cutthroat.

Shawn with a beautiful cutt from the stream.
We got up early so we could make it to our final campsite and set up. It was only a few miles, But for some reason, my ankle decided it was done helping me out. By the time we made it to came, I could hardly walk. While the guys went to fish Lake of the Clouds, I set up shop on Robert's hammock, to rest my ankle, and take a nap. I eventually hobbled down and caught a few small brook trout from Ouzel Lake while I waited for everyone to get back. They arrived back with good sized cutthroat to eat, and pictures of some awesome views. The fish really hit the spot for dinner.

The next morning we packed up and hiked the seven miles back to the truck. We hike past a few lakes, but all of us were ready to get back home so we didn't fish them. I would say this hike is near the top of my list for hikes I've done. The Beartooth Wilderness treated us with nice weather and great fishing, and if this place isn't on your list of places to visit, it should be.

Heading to our final camping sop by Bald Knob Lake.
Camp is set, and ready.

Bear proofing our food.

A view from Lake of the Clouds.

Natures infinity pool.

A view of Bald Knob and Ouzel Lakes from lake of the Clouds.
Almost back to the trail head after a successful hike.

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